The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Possible fire at Student Recreation Center

HVAC system went out, caused smoke and burning smell
The UREC in January 2020.

On Monday evening, a part of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioningsystem at the WSU UREC went out, resulting in an evacuation of the whole facility due to a burning smell and smoke filling the lower-weight room.

A motor in air handler number four, a part of the HVAC system responsible for the flow of hot/cold air through a facility at the UREC facility went out, which caused smokey haze and a burning smell in the facility.

The evacuation of the facility occurred around 8 p.m., and the Pullman Fire Department responded shortly after. The fire department found no sign of an active fire, Associate Director of University Recreation Facilities and Operations, Nicolas Prante said.

“The Student Recreation Center was evacuated out of an abundance of caution after an unidentified smell and smoke/haze in the lower weight room,” Prante said.

Prante said the HVAC system motor that went out has since been fixed, and the UREC is operating normally.

“We got a little bit more of the smoke and haziness from this one [occurrence of motor blowing] than normally. It could have just been like a fan belt that slipped off or started rubbing and creating that kind of burning rubber smell and then smoke,” Prante said.

Prante said the Pullman fire department was only on scene for about 15-20 minutes, wherein they identified the area where the motor blew and used a heat-detection gun to rule out the possibility of a fire.

The University Recreation maintenance team went in the following morning and fixed the motor that had died, Prante said.

“The [motor] dying process is what created the smoke and the smell. But when it had completely died, there weren’t any more issues,” Prante said.

The UREC re-opened fully operational about 45 minutes after the initial burning smell and haze had started, and UREC staff had evacuated everyone, Prante said.

“I noticed the smell when I was putting a piece of equipment away,” Tristan Brady, freshman business major, said. “It smelled like burning plastic and I saw a visible smog filling the room. I was almost finished at that point, but people started leaving in the middle of their workout once they smelled it.”

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